Prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination often show different psychological patterns depending on which social group they are targeting. My research focuses on these differences, highlighting cases where addressing underexamined target groups reveals insights about bias that might otherwise have escaped notice.
Some of my work has focused on two specific kinds of stigmatized groups that pervade our social environment yet receive relatively little mainstream attention—intermediate social groups and people with concealable stigmatized identities.
Intermediate Social Groups
One of my major lines of research examines bias surrounding "intermediate" groups that are perceived to fall between more commonly recognized advantaged and disadvantaged groups, such as biracial and bisexual people.
Much intergroup research is built on groups that represent "endpoints" of a dimension of social identity, such as White, Black, heterosexual, and gay/lesbian people. Social groups that are perceived to fall between more commonly recognized advantaged and disadvantaged groups (e.g., biracial people, bisexual people) have received less attention. Such "intermediate" groups are sometimes viewed as less conceptually legitimate (e.g., less distinctive, not a "real" group) than other groups. Dismissive reactions to intermediate groups provide clues about how people understand the very idea of social groups. Understanding them facilitates a nuanced account of an increasingly heterogeneous social world. For details, see https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/tcr4q.
Concealable Stigmatized Identities
In work that sometimes overlaps with intermediate groups, I also examine perceptions of people with concealable stigmatized identities. These groups are sometimes overlooked because their members are not immediately identifiable. My research on bisexuality, an intermediate social identity that is frequently concealable, falls into this category. Some of my other research pertains to attitudes toward transgender people and people with stigmatized physical and mental health conditions such as HIV and depression.
Several aspects of my research have applications in areas such as law, public health, and education. For example, Roseanna Sommers and I conducted some experiments about whether laws give people hints about which social groups they should like or dislike. Under some conditions, legal protection of a marginalized group may mitigate negative social attitudes toward that group. Also, my research on racial and sexual orientation bias in the domain of medical training facilitates an understanding of both health disparities resulting from biased medical care and what works (and doesn't work) in anti-bias education.
I encourage careful data archival and, when possible, public data sharing. I also strive to avoid publishing data that could potentially be used to identify research participants. For details, see the Intergroup Bias Lab manual.
My preferred public data archives are ICPSR and openICPSR. I share most of my research data and materials there, but not necessarily immediately. Such data can be found by searching for my name on the ICPSR website or consulting the "Public Data" section of my curriculum vitae [pdf]. Examples pertaining to some of the projects mentioned above include "Distinctive negative reactions to intermediate social groups" (https://doi.org/10.3886/E153661V1), "Lay conceptions of sexual orientation groups: United States convenience samples, 2012" (https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR38131.v1), and "The legal status of discrimination can alter personal prejudice against people with depression" (https://doi.org/10.3886/E146023V1).
For a more complete list, see this recent version of my curriculum vitae [pdf].
Burke, S. E., & Moss-Racusin, C. A. (2023). Playing the long game: Carrying out principled tests of psychological phenomena before developing formal theories. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 53(7), 535-539. https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.13001
Burke, S. E., Perry, S. P., Dovidio, J. F., & LaFrance, M. (2023). Distinctive negative reactions to intermediate social groups. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 53(7), 600-630. https://doi.org/10.1111/jasp.12942
Ess, M., Burke, S. E., & LaFrance, M. (in press). Gendered anti-bisexual bias: Heterosexual, bisexual, and gay/lesbian people's willingness to date sexual orientation ingroup and outgroup members. Journal of Homosexuality. https://doi.org/10.1080/00918369.2022.2030618
Burke, S. E., & Sommers, R. (2022). Reducing prejudice through law: Evidence from experimental psychology. University of Chicago Law Review, 89(6), 1369–1417. https://lawreview.uchicago.edu/publication/reducing-prejudice-through-law-evidence-experimental-psychology
Ess, M., & Burke, S. E. (2022). Class attitudes and the American work ethic: Praise for the hardworking poor and derogation of the lazy rich. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 100, 104301. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2022.104301
Burke, S. E., & LaFrance, M. (2018). Perceptions of instability and choice across sexual orientation groups. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 21(2), 257-279. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430216663019
Wittlin, N. M., Dovidio, J. F., LaFrance, M., & Burke, S. E. (2018). About face: Memory for transgender versus cisgender targets' facial appearance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 78, 77-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2018.04.009
Burke, S. E., Dovidio, J. F., LaFrance, M., Przedworski, J. M., Perry, S. P., Phelan, S. M., Burgess, D. J., Hardeman, R. R., Yeazel, M. W., & van Ryn, M. (2017). Beyond generalized sexual prejudice: Need for closure predicts negative attitudes toward bisexual people relative to gay/lesbian people. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 71, 145-150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2017.02.003
Burke, S. E., Dovidio, J. F., Perry, S. P., Burgess, D. J., Hardeman, R. R., Phelan, S. M., Cunningham, B. A., Yeazel, M. W., Przedworski, J. M., & van Ryn, M. (2017). Informal training experiences and explicit bias against African Americans among medical students. Social Psychology Quarterly, 80(1), 65-84. https://doi.org/10.1177/0190272516668166
Burke, S. E., & LaFrance, M. (2016). Lay conceptions of sexual minority groups. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 45(3), 635-650. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-015-0655-5
Burke, S. E., & LaFrance, M. (2016). Stereotypes of bisexual people: What do bisexual people themselves think? Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 3(2), 247-254. https://doi.org/10.1037/sgd0000168
Burke, S. E., Wang, K., & Dovidio, J. F. (2014). Witnessing disclosure of depression: Gender and attachment avoidance moderate interpersonal evaluations. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 33(6), 536-559. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2014.33.6.536